Black Note Stout | Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store

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Black Note StoutBlack Note Stout
Black Note StoutBlack Note Stout

Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Michigan, United States

Style: American Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.20%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
One of the most sought-after stouts in Bell's history, Black Note Stout blends the complex aromatics of Expedition Stout with the velvety smooth texture of Double Cream Stout and ages the combination in freshly retired oak bourbon barrels for months. The resulting harmony of flavors captures the finest features of all three components: malty notes of dark chocolate, espresso & dried fruits, all buoyed by the warmth and fragrance of the bourbon barrel. Aimed squarely at the stout and bourbon aficionados, Black Note makes a grand statement about the art of the dark.

User Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 805 | Ratings: 4,875
Photo of Thomas_Wikman
4.7/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

I just had the 2017 Black Note Stout and it was great. It's hard to get where I live so I was happy to finally get my hands on it. What a wonderful stout, full bodied and flavorful and yet smooth and easy drinking. It is truly delicious.

Look: dark brown / black with a half inch creamy mocca colored head

Aroma: chocolate and some bourbon.

Taste: Roasted malts, chocolate, moderate bourbon to round it off.

Body/Overall: full body, creamy, silky, smooth

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Photo of Tony210
4.54/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours so dark it is completely impervious to light. 2 fingers of mocha head slowly fade. Really great chocolate and bourbon aroma, fairly typical yet exceptional. Great chocolate flavor, very intense, bourbon barrel smooths it out and gives it a really nice barrel flavor. Tons of dark roasted malt flavor. Light bitter espresso finish. Full bodied, rich, thick, and creamy. Carbonation adds to a creamy texture. Overall an outstanding BBA Imperial Stout, worth buying a few if you come across it.

12 oz bottle
4.5 rating

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Photo of HopsAreDaMan
4.14/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Reviewing this after having it about 2 months ago.

Although was a good imperial stout, considering the hype around this beer and the cost, I was disappointed.

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Photo of npolachek
4.35/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Finally found this beer in a bottle at a grocery store in NYC on 75th and 2nd. I think its good, but not as unbelievable as some of the ratings indicate. The malt taste is solid, and definitely worth drinking, but I've tasted better amongst newer releases (Prison Double Barrel Wham Whams, Other Half 5th, etc.)

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Photo of micada
4.42/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2017 12oz bottle poured cold to a tulip glass. Dark mahogany brown with a two-finger bubbly mocha head. Lots of lacing that clings and doesn’t move, at all. Nose is faint vanilla and char, very subdued compared to what I thought it would be. First sips are woody, creamy stout, with a slight bourbon back-end linger. Very balanced flavor profile, with only a slight woody bite in the front. It’s almost like drinking “black.” Yeah, that sounds trippy, but it’s almost like not drinking anything other than a concept. It’s full, creamy, warming, filling. No alcohol presence, but it is warming. Very smooth, very easy to drink. I’m half-way through it, and am sad that it’s almost gone, with only one more on the shelf.

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Photo of MonDak_Joe1953
4.51/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle. 2017 bottling (10/05/017).
Dark brown colored body, with the bottom edge displaying a backlit medium brown. Initial two finger tan head settles back to thick cap with varying bubble sizes (looks creamy). Leaves behind an interrupted pattern of lacing spots and strings.
Aroma of dark roasted malts, dark fruit, and oak bourbon barrel.
Taste of dark roasted malts, which translates to dark chocolate, dark fruit, toffee/molasses, and a touch of espresso. The oak bourbon barrel is present but is a quiet blend to the other components. Minimal bitterness. The aftertaste is like bourbon soaked prunes and figs.
Mouth coating, medium plus mouth feel. Has a smooth texture. Good carbonation which supports the body.
I am pleasantly surprised by the balance and blend of the beer. It has breadth and depth but is also easy to drink. The barrel note is supportive but not overly intrusive. Warming throughout the imbibing process.

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Photo of kjones6
4.79/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Phenomenal. Near perfect Drinkability and finish. This beer is smooth and perfectly balanced. You will not get a traditional place punchbof hops like most imperial stouts and that is not a bad thing.

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Photo of dcotom
4.49/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Review is of the 2017 edition. Poured from 12-ounce bottle into a snifter. Deep blackish-brown colored body, with a dark tan head that left a bit of sticky lacing. Good bourbon character but not harsh, nice alcohol warmth but not overly boozy, substantial mouthfeel without being syrupy. Big aromas and flavors of molasses, vanilla, cocoa, and dark roasted espresso bean, with moderate bitterness, no char, and some slightly sour oaky astringence on the finish. This seems to me to hit its sweet spot at slightly below cellar temperature, where everything settles into balance. As always, YMMV.

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Photo of jbertsch
3.73/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Not bad. Just wouldn't buy again. Has a licorice note on the nose and tongue that I don't really like. Overall the balance is good. BB character is mild which is good or bad depending on your preference.

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Photo of Joe_Palooka
3.93/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

I have waited to rate until I drank about 18 of 2016 vintage and 18 of 2017 vintage.... It"s a good American Imperial Stout but I really don't think it is worth the hype and I am a Bells Brewery FANATIC! My main problem with the beer is the mouth feel. It does not compare with Bells Expedition Stout that is so thick and creamy. I was sooo expecting more! The flavor is great, the taste is okay but not overwhelming. I will always but this beer but I was a bit disappointed.

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Photo of jhavs
4.4/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2017 bottle poured into fluted snifter.

Pour is black with a thin and creamy fine bubbled head. The head settles fast into a few bubbles and a thin ring around the glass.

Aroma has a nice smooth mix of booze, earthy barrel and rich/sweet malts.

In the flavor I pick up some sweet chocolate, dark fruit, smoky molasses and a nice level of dark grainy malt. The bourbon boozey level is smooth and balanced. Just a touch of heat.

Just under moderate carbonation and a bit lighter body than I was expecting.

Overall a really well put together BA stout. Lots of layers in the flavor.

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Photo of Sprowt20
3.61/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Look: Pours black with minimal head.
Smell: Rich, malty, boozy stout. The bourbon barrels come through strong.
Taste: Rich and creamy, with a heavy booze layer. Sweet.
Feel: Thick. Like a well made hot chocolate.
Overall: Really tasty and savory, but short of special.

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Photo of mothmanscott
4.5/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours clear midnight pitch black but appears garnet hued when light is shined into it. The pour produces barely a finger of frothy, short-lived, dark mocha head that recedes to a thin collar ring and only a hint of island cap leaving minimal lacing on the sides of the glass. Aroma is toasted/burnt malt, bourbon/oak-wood fronted backed by Hershey's chocolate syrup, dark fruits, toffee and some coffee. Taste is almost the inverse: Hershey's chocolate syrup, fig/prune and caramel/toffee/molasses notes lead with bourbon, oak-wood vanilla, dark chocolate and coffee hints in the latter half of the sip and finish producing a bourbon, cocoa, burnt & bitter aftertaste. Roasted/toasted and sweet malt notes, fruitiness and barrel aging make this very, very nice. Mouthfeel is heavy bodied with low carbonation, chewy, tongue coating creamy and silky smooth with a light prickle.

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Photo of keithmurray
4.35/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2017 Vintage

Appearance - dark black body with nearly no head

Smell - chocolate, molasses, bourbon

Taste - chocolate, brownie, molasses, bourbon

Mouthfeel - medium bodied, medium carbonation, chocolate and fudge upfront, barrel in the finish and more chocolate and fudge on the back end

Overall - nice barrel aged stout here, the chocolate and fudge flavors are really pronounced and the barrel has a nice presence as well. Recommended

Price Point - $5.99/12 oz single

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Photo of joe1510
4.53/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

12oz Bottle
$5.99 single
Village Dell & Wine - Rice Lake, WI

Black Note manages to glug from the bottle. It literally made glugging sounds. It's as black as they come. So perfectly black that you see perfect reflections around the glass. The mocha head is amazingly creamy and dense and easy forming. A finger plus head comes easily with leaves behind puffy lace and drink lines with each sip. This is how big, bold, bad ass stouts ought to look.

The nose on this beer is up there in that elite category which is rarefied air. The barrel aging seems to be expertly accomplished. We have a big, fudgy, molten chocolate cake of a stout. This beer embraces the chocolate notes barley can produce while shying away from the char in other versions. A splash of cream and a solid nuttiness along with all that fudge make the base while the barrel adds amazing depth. They managed to pull the bourbon flavors of caramel, vanilla, and soft baking spice without pulling the heat. There's also that marshmallow character I get from only the most well handled barrel aged beers.

The flavor brings about the same complexities and depth as the nose. Giant fudge and rich dark chocolate characters get things moving before a soft touch of roast kicks in. Dark berries and a shot of coffee make themselves known before that roast and fudge lingers on the finish. This is without a mention of the barrel characteristics...caramel, toasted oak, vanilla, baking spices, marshmallow, and coconut all come from the barrel treatment.

Sometimes barrel aged beers can take a hit in the mouthfeel department, thinning out over time. This beer is not one of those. It's plush and velvety with an amazing airiness thanks to the soft, yet active carbonation. The barrel aging leaves behind some tannins that dry this beer out and wipe away any hint of residual sweetness. For the size and scope of this beer the drinkability is off the charts.

Black Note is obviously a classic at this point. It achieves with brewing prowess and cellarmanship what pastry stouts these days have to achieve with a list of absurd ingredients a mile long. This beer is jam packed with character but even handed and well rounded. The mouthfeel is near perfection. A masterpiece.

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Photo of Phineasco
4.5/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours Pitch Black with a medium khaki head. It has medium low carbonation. The beer smells of baker’s chcolate, raisins, marshmallows, and bourbon barrel. It tastes of baker’s chocolate, raisins, subtle vanilla, marshmallows, and bourbon barrel. The feel is medium, and very smooth. A nice approachable barrel aged stout.

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Photo of mntlover
4.26/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

No wonder I couldn't find this one, one beer store had more then a case left guess they had been hording it lucky for me it should be fine aged some.

Pours a oil black even held to the sunlight its black nothing getting through this dark ass brew. nice fluffy two finger dark tan head from an aggressive pour falls slow to a cap and laces pretty good for a big brew.

Aroma is light bourbon notes on creamy sweet chocolate lactose like base. Dark fruit notes, coffee and vanilla underneath the big roasted malt sweetness.

Taste is like the nose rich malted chocolate notes, good sweetness nice and smooth body. Bourbon, dark fruit, vanilla and coffee all mingled through out. smooth and easy drinking for a big beer. Some alcohol notes in the finish that adds warming and a little kick that blends well and goes well with the brew.

Mouthfeel is nice and smooth due to mellow carbonation which I enjoy. But seems a little light for such a big beer even if it is smooth.

Overall a nice big stout that is enjoyable and hard to knock even if I am not as impressed as some I would be willing to have it again.

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Photo of kemoarps
4.43/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2017 bottle. In honour of Christopher.
Thanks Brian for sending it along!

Thick black body with soft dark brown head.

Everything you want it to be. Dark espresso and fudge and just a thick deliciousness. Some oak and sweet caramel from the barrel but it's not overly boozy. Dangerous to drink easy to go down.
This is a fantastic BA Stout that is deserving of the accolades thrown its way.

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Photo of FFFjunkie
4.58/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance is near jet black and poured with 1.5 fingers of spongy khaki colored head.

Aroma is bitter dark chocolate, dark stone fruit, dark coffee, vanilla and bourbon obviously.

Taste follows nose. Very nice combo of dark chocolate, stone fruits and coffee. Bourbon is smooth and well integrated.

Feel is oily , moderately thick and smooth.

Overall a fantastic barrel aged stout that hits all the right dark characteristics. Thank you @blackop555 for the opportunity!

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Photo of jrc1093
4.27/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled on 10/5/17

Pours a deep black, showing no light, and topped with a finger of soft, semi-thick sand-colored foam; decent head retention with fades to a thick extended ring around the liquid’s edge and leaves some thick walls of lacing as well.

Aromas of deep vanilla, cherries, charred oak, creamy milk chocolate, and light hints of bourbon to add a nuanced harshness to an overall soft bouquet.

Taste of charred oak mingles nicely with sweeter tones of milk chocolate, which fade quickly to a much darker, lush Swiss variety; hints of tobacco and vanilla round out a profile which balances the earthy and sweet characteristics of the barrel nicely.

Mouthfeel is silky smooth with a near perfect body, which the carbonation accompanies effortlessly; creamy but lighter and not overbearing in the slightest; mild stickiness through the finish; just incredibly smooth and adding an good element of drinkability to a BA stout.

Very flavorful and with a striking aroma, it’s tough to find a weak spot with this one. The mouthfeel is unique, as it thins out but somehow maintains its weight on the palate and carries the flavor profile with relative ease. An easy-drinking BA stout if there was one, and with an almost ‘classic’ level of simplicity and nuance.

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Photo of Zach_Attack
4.49/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

03/2013 - 2010 vintage - Amazing bready, raisin, and bourbon nose; nice roastiness, mixed with dark chocolate, some plum, tobacco on the palate; thick mouthfeel that impresses me!

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Photo of ichorNet
4.55/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

All of the darker beers from Bell's have been amazing to me so far (as someone who's pretty much totally new to their offerings since they just started distributing to New England recently), and I'm assuming this is no different! I guess this is something like a combination of Expedition (which I haven't had, though I've had Kalamazoo Stout, their regular strength stout, and love it) and Double Cream (which is superb) aged in bourbon barrels. I bought this pre-aged bottle that already has about a year on it (10/5/17) from a local store recently. Pumped!

Pours a deep, dark and immensely oppressive color topped with a small, sly head of light mocha foam. Small pours into my fluted glass re-rouse the head to about a finger, which settles down to a quarter-finger after several minutes. The surface, however, remains mostly crowded by suds... really stately looking beer.

The nose has the wonderful combination of vanillin, tannin and dark fruit gained from extended bourbon barrel aging, combined with the irresistibly dense and chocolate-y elements of Bell's malt wizardry. This is like a liquid chocolate bar with dried dark fruit pieces throughout... just decadent smelling, for sure! No trace of the 11.2% ABV in this one either, somehow. Just decadent!

The flavor profile is truly great, with roasty notes, creamy vanilla, plum, prune and some light tannic bourbon-y heat threaded throughout to give you the true BBA stout experience. I thought from the nose that this would be a bit less hot than other similarly-weighty barrel-aged stouts, but the flavor profile just dominates my palate, summarily defeating that notion. The woody tannins really do come out the more this warms, however, making it one of the most intensely flavored BBA imperial stouts I've had lately. I'm sure the year of shelf aging on this is doing some work at keeping it level-headed, of course, but it's still nice and toasty.

The feel is silky-smooth and very detailed. With an adequately-moderated carbonation and heavy-leaning body, Black Note impresses on more levels than just its intense flavors. This drinks the way a truly seasoned beer veteran would like their strong stout to taste... it's complex and dense with perfect balance. One of the best, of course!

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Photo of Hyptochrons
4.49/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

great looking stout. flavors are of deep oaky charred barrel notes, toffee, molasses, caramel, robust bourbon flavor, but not exceedingly boozy. pretty solid mouthfeel.

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Photo of NotAlcoholicJustAHobby
4.36/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled 10/05/2017

L- The beer pours black (duh) with a half centimeter mocha head of fine bubbles. The head recedes to a thin ring leaving no lacing behind.
S-The nose is bourbon forward, demonstrating that oaky vanilla characteristic. Behind the bourbon is a dark chocolate which seems almost sweet due to the bourbon.
T-On the palate the sweetness of the nose is far better balanced. Up front you get roasty coffee like presence. Thankfully I don't get any of that charred flavor I get with some stouts. Bourbon rises in the middle sweetening the bitter coffee presence and lingering into the finish. A chocolate aftertaste is left on the tongue after the bourbon subsides.
F-Mouthfeel overall is medium. It's smooth, but could be a little thicker. Carbonation is light.
O- An excellent bourbon barrel aged stout, that may not quite live up to all the hype. It's good don't get med wrong. I'm not sure it's good enough at the price point it commands.

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Photo of brureview
4.2/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opaque chocolate color in a Stone RIS glass with a 2F head.

Chocolate aroma, not pronounced.

Very complex taste: milk chocolate which deepens with warming.

Very enjoyable beer,

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Black Note Stout from Bell's Brewery - Eccentric Café & General Store
Beer rating: 4.54 out of 5 with 4,875 ratings